Design Drive

How one artist steers her creative interests

Photo by Ara Howrani

Photo by Ara Howrani

Name: Crystal Windham
Job: Interior Design Director, Passenger Cars, General Motors Co.
Age: 39

Last Position: Prior to being promoted to her current position in 2008, Windham was a design manager for 6 years.

Education: Windham received a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial  Design with a focus in automotive design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The college has an outstanding reputation in transportation design. She also holds an M.B.A. from University of Detroit-Mercy, which has been helpful in her ability to successfully manage individuals and teams, as well as collaborate with other disciplines at General Motors.
Most drivers rarely give thought to the innovative car designers whose creativity and inspiration add excitement and enrich their driving experience. Crystal Windham, interior design director, passenger cars, at General Motors Co., is one such talent who integrates beauty and style with the car company’s trademark function and engineering to create interior designs that customers notice—and love.

Responsibilities: Leads a group of designers, sculptors, and engineers who create the shape and overall environment of the vehicle. Windham’s team impacts all surfaces the driver sees, touches, and uses within General Motors’ Chevrolet and Buick passenger vehicles. Her team begins by sketching freehand and brainstorming ideas of how the interior will look. Throughout a series of reviews with design leadership and other departments, a selection is made and Windham’s team will translate the design into a sculpted 3-D model using clay.

Learning on the Job: Windham’s career at General Motors began as an associate creative designer. She was later promoted to creative designer then lead designer. In 1997 she accepted an international assignment in RÜsselsheim, Germany, which broadened her understanding and insight of interior and exterior car design, as well as gave her a greater awareness of design nuances and cultural differences. Each position and opportunity enhanced her qualifications for the next step and increased her design knowledge, skill set, and expertise.

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